When Bobby Malherbe and her daughters Aliah and Emily came to the Salvation Army’s Flemington, N.J., Corps in 2008, their family’s roots in that city went back generations.
“The church that most of my family attended had closed years ago. Many of them were still looking for a new place to worship,” says Malherbe, who discovered The Salvation Army when she and her girls received an invitation to a back–to–school bash at the corps. Bobby, who at the time did not consider herself a believer, told relatives about the corps they had visited, which served communities and families like hers. This new church also offered many activities for Aliah, Emily, and their young cousins.
“We brought to the corps many relatives. Before my eyes, I saw my family and my church community become one and the same,” remembers Malherbe.
Both Aliah and Emily have participated in Sunbeams, the Army’s program for girls, grades 1–5. Aliah, 16, is now a junior soldier. Her Sunbeams sash, filled with merit badges, hangs in a classroom at the Flemington Corps. Emily, 10, is still in Sunbeams. At meetings, she loves making new members feel welcome. She also introduces them to the useful lessons that Sunbeams offer, such as first aid for scraped knees and bleeding noses.
“Every year in Sunbeams, we all learn things that we did not know before,” says Emily. “Being around old and new friends also makes us all feel connected to God.”
Sunbeams has strengthened Emily’s connection with the Lord and her knowledge about the universe. Lessons on astronomy, arts & crafts, and safety are taught alongside animal care and Scripture.
“When I was in 3rd grade, I used to think that knowing about [outer] space was something meant only for boys,” says Emily. “But learning about the solar system was one of the merit badges that we could earn. I learned that Pluto is an orphan planet, and that stars are basically mini–suns; some are red, some blue, some hotter than the Sun, and some colder. There is so much more to space than just the Sun and the planets.”
“Sunbeams has expanded Emily’s mind; not just with the Lord, but with everyone and everything around her,” says Malherbe. “Learning about God’s creation opens a new appreciation for His love.”
Because of programs like Sunbeams, Malherbe says God is in her daughters’ hearts and in their lives every day. “My girls share that love with others, and with me. We wouldn’t have experienced that type of love if we had not come to The Salvation Army.”
by Hugo Bravo
What is Sunbeams?
The Salvation Army Sunbeam program is a holistic Christian Education experience for girls in grades 1–5. The goal of Sunbeams is to help them develop positive social and communication habits, decision–making and life skills, and become leaders.
Sunbeams develop these qualities in a safe, age–appropriate, and Christ–centered environment. It encourages a sense of personal identity and character, based on Christian values and biblical principles.
The Sunbeams Pledge
I promise that I will try to love God, to be obedient, to be loving and kind to all, and to be true to the Sunbeam Declaration.
The Sunbeams Declaration
I understand that as a Sunbeam, I should pray morning and evening; speak the truth; be kind to animals; and never steal, swear, gamble, touch harmful drugs or strong drinks.
For more information on Sunbeams and other Salvation Army programs for children, click here or contact your local Salvation Army corps.